Dieffenbachia is a tropical evergreen perennial that can grow 10 feet tall outdoors and 3 to 6 feet indoors. It’s a very popular houseplant with large dark green and pale cream variegated ovate leaves and a thick stem. Have you ever wondered how Dieffenbachia or Dumb cane grows in water?
Is it possible to grow plants in water instead of soil? Yes, this practice is called hydroculture or water culture. The practice comes under the umbrella of hydroponics. You can grow plants in water alone or pair the water with an aggregate like clay pebbles or vermiculite.
How Do Plants Survive Without Soil?
From the beginning, we’ve seen plants grow from the ground and in pots full of soil. To imagine plants growing without soil is challenging. The only plants we can think of surviving in just water are aquatic plants like duckweed or Java Fern.
However, people have successfully planted many common houseplants in vases full of only water. The plants we are so used to seeing in pots did just as well in water. Some plants do even better in water than in soil. How is this possible? Plants need five things to grow and thrive. They are:
If you supply a plant with these five things, you can grow it anywhere. Have you ever wondered how the weed growing in a crack in the wall survives? It’s getting all five of these things. That’s why.
How can we provide these five things to plants in water? Let’s find out!
Also check: Can You Grow Dieffenbachia From Cuttings?
This one is a no-brainer. The roots are submerged in water. We also change the water as much as possible or at least once a week. This practice provides the plant with fresh water to absorb.
The water can be tap water, mineral water, or spring water. Just ensure the water is purified, so it doesn’t carry harmful germs.
We provide sunlight to our water culture plants like other indoor plants. Find a spot in your house with the right amount of sun for the plant. For Dieffenbachia, look for a place with bright indirect sunlight for the best results.
There are some mineral nutrients present in the water. You can grow plants for many months on water alone. However, if you desire the plant to grow larger, as Dieffenbachia surely can, you must add fertilizer. Do not use any liquid fertilizer. It must be specifically made for hydroculture or hydroponics.
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The vase we fill with water supports the plant. Over time the roots grow to fill the space provided by the vase and solidify their position. You can add gravel, clay pebbles, or vermiculite to help provide more support.
How can we get air to the roots if they are submerged in water? Water has gasses that make up air dissolve in it. Healthy drinking water has 6.5-8 mg/L of oxygen dissolved in it. When we change the water in our plant, we provide it with fresh oxygen.
Why Grow Dieffenbachia in Water?
We know it’s possible to grow indoor plants like Dieffenbachia in water. However, why would we ever do that? Surprisingly there are many benefits to growing plants this way.
Overwatering and under-watering are the two biggest indoor or container gardening problems. We try our best, but even the most experienced gardeners give their plants too much or too little water.
When Plants don’t get enough water, they wilt, and with too much water, their roots rot. If the plant lives in water, there is no dry or soggy soil issue.
We don’t have to do anything to maintain the plant except change the water or add fertilizer occasionally. Many plants do fine in water for long periods without any fertilizer.
Check here: Houseplants That Like Wet Soil
Fewer Pests and Diseases
When you grow Dieffenbachia in water, the chance it gets infected by pests or diseases reduces dramatically. Soil is the breeding ground for many insects or microorganisms that could potentially attack your plant. Removing the soil factor almost eliminates any chance of the plant becoming ill.
Growing Dumb Cane in water
There are two ways you can grow Dieffenbachia in water. You could transfer your existing Dumb cane or one newly purchased from soil to water or propagate a cutting in water from scratch. Both ways have their pros and cons. Let’s discuss them in detail.
Dieffenbachia cuttings grow really well when propagated in soil or water. It takes the cuttings a long time to develop roots in the water. However, if you want your Dumb cane to have the best chance of thriving while planted in water, you should use water to propagate it.
Plants have memory. They have hormone cycles that depend on stimuli from outside. When we change the soil of a new plant to the potting mix at home, they go through a shock. The shock is mild as long as the new potting mix and conditions are conducive to growth.
However, when transferring a plant from soil to water, sometimes they don’t survive the shock. The leaves begin dying, or the roots die.
To avoid this, we can leave the parent plant alone in the pot and take a cutting from it to grow out instead.
Also check: How to Transport a House Plant During a Move?
Propagating a Dieffenbachia cutting in Water
To propagate a Dieffenbachia cutting in water, we’ll need:
- A sharp knife or gardening sheers
- A vase
- parent dieffenbachia plant
- purified water
This is the method to propagate and grow Dieffenbachia in water.
1. Step One
Examine the parent Dieffenbachia plant. The plant will have a long thick stem with many nodes if it is mature. A cutting should have at least two nodes along its length. If the Dieffenbachia plant is juvenile, it is yet to form a merged stem. Then you must only remove the stem section. Look at the plant carefully and decide how you will make the cuttings.
2. Step Two
If the plant matures, make the first cutting of two nodes beneath where the stems merge. This cutting can also be put in water, but we recommend putting it in soil. Under the first cutting, make more after an interval of two or three nodes.
If the plant is juvenile, remove an entire stem section down to the base and its leaves.
Remember you should wear gloves as the plant is toxic. People get rashes or contact dermatitis from handling the plant.
3. Step Three
Ensure you remember which part of the plant cutting was on top and which was on the bottom. Put the part that was below in the cutting in water.
4. Step Four
Change the water weekly and wait a few months for roots to develop. Your cutting will produce new leaves faster than it will new roots.
5. Step Five
Place the Dieffenbachia in a larger vase when it grows larger. After six to ten months, add a little bit of hydroponic fertilizer.
You will notice how your Dieffenbachia is healthier than it was in the soil. Since you propagated the plant in water, you can continue to grow it in water indefinitely.
Moving Dieffenbachia From Soil to Water
The other method is to take a fully mature Dieffenbachia plant from a soil pot and put it in water. To do so, you’ll need:
- a faucet with a sink
- a vase
- purified water
You must follow this method to move a Dieffenbachia plant from soil to water.
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1. Step one
Gently remove the dieffenbachia plant from its pot. Use a little force while shaking it out of the pot, and pull on the stem if you need to.
2. Step two
While wearing gloves, gently press and break off the soil from the roots of the plant. Be extremely cautious not to injure the roots.
3. Step three
Turn on the faucet and place the roots under the running water. With your fingers, gently massage and remove the remaining soil.
4. Step four
Fill the vase with water and place the plant in it. Ensure that the water level only covers the roots and does not reach the base or stem of the plant.
5. Step Five
Watch for signs of shock. Some or all the leaves might die, but new ones should grow. Once fresh leaves start growing, you can rest assured the plant has stabilized. Now you can add hydroponic fertilizer to the vase at your discretion.
Please check: Best Organic Fertilizer for Houseplants
Dieffenbachia loves heat and humidity. That doesn’t change if you grow it in soil or water. The humidity problem is solved by growing it in water. However, for it to flourish into the beautiful foliage plant we know and love, it needs light and warmth.
While Dieffenbachia can survive in low-light environments, it is best to provide it with bright indirect light. Do not put it in direct sunlight, or else the leaves might burn. As far as temperature is concerned, do not let it drop below 65°F.
You can grow it successfully without adding any fertilizer or nutrients. However, know that your plant will not grow very large. If you want a large plant, you must provide it with fertilizer.
If you were wondering, “Can I grow Dieffenbachia in water?” Yes, you can. It’s one of the best plants to grow in water. You can propagate a cutting in water from scratch. That is better than moving a grown plant from the soil into the water.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.